Web maintenance matters. Everything in the universe breaks, falls apart, or runs down. Besides that, there’s always someone trying to break in, destroy, or steal. Your website is vulnerable to both sources of chaos.
The Dangers Your Website Faces
Your website can break for many reasons. Most common, conflicting code can cause features of your website to stop functioning, create puzzling glitches that put off your web visitors — or even give the dreaded “white screen of death,” in which nothing appears on the screen at all. Or bad actors might attack your site. Sometimes they install malicious code that causes it to obey them rather than you.
Other times, in what’s called a DoS (denial of service) attack, they send so many requests for access that your site slows and eventually stops. See What It’s Like to Get Hit With a DDoS Attack — An Inside View. A denial of service attack can cause massive problems not only for you but for your web host and everyone else hosted on the same server.
Or maybe the problem happens for reasons outside your website. A third-party feature (such as your payment processor) might not be communicating with your website.
Technical problems can shut down your ecommerce, damage your reputation with your web visitors, and cause indexing problems for the search engines. A major outage can undermine months or years of effort to build an audience. And if you don’t check your site often, you may not even find out about a problem for days or longer.
How WordPress Maintenance Helps
The elements of WordPress maintenance are —
The WordPress platform keeps changing, partly to improve features and partly for security. The plugins you use have to keep up with the new developments, so they keep changing, too.
Keeping your WordPress core software and plugins updated plugs the holes the web hackers keep finding. And you increase the odds that all the elements of your site will play well together.
One thing I’ve learned from watching web security reports is that people are trying to enter your website pretty much all the time. They have software to try thousands of logins at once or to put junk comments on thousands of sites. If they get in, they can deface your home page or use your site to send out thousands of spam emails, which in turn causes your web host to shut down your site until you get it fixed. Comment spam may seem relatively innocent until you find your site promoting something you find disgusting.
Best practice is to hold all new comments until you approve each one. That may force you to choose between combing through hundreds of spam messages or missing the handful of relevant comments that represent feedback and engagement with your prospective clients.
There are ways to harden your site against different kind kinds of attacks. Security plugins protect against a variety of problems, including login attempts or unrecognized files. A content delivery network protects you from denial-of-service attacks while increasing the speed and efficiency of your site.
By installing these solutions, you get warning of potential problems in time to fix dangers before they fully arrive. But you need to check in pretty much every day or and keep an eye on the warnings that come to your emails, even though they are mostly false positives.
Backups can save your website from pretty much any problem. If you’ve kept your site regularly backed up in a safe location, then you can wipe your site and start over in a matter of hours, rather than having to start from scratch. A safe place to store backups would be on your home file storage or offline storage, not on your web server.
Keeping multiple copies of your site on your web hosting uses up your storage space and doesn’t protect you if the problem is your web host itself. The best approach is to use online storage such as Amazon’s Google’s server space. It will cost you to keep your backups online. Generally speaking, the price increases with the convenience and ease of use. But when something goes wrong, the comfort of having a recent backup is incalculable.
Sometimes, mysterious things happen, and the website or one of its functions breaks Fixing it can involve hours of googling, long conversations with support, and perhaps hundreds of dollars to a developer to fix the problem. If you have the time and interest, it’s a great way to learn how the web works. If you don’t, it may be an experience you would prefer to avoid.
Professional Web Maintenance
Regular care for your website is the key to preventing major breakdowns. Keeping your site updated and checking threats before they come to fruition can give you security that you won’t face the embarrassment of a dead website, and you won’t have to put the rest of your work on hold while you fix it. If you need a resource for web maintenance services, I can help. Contact me for more information.